In conversation with Nate Hobbs

The recent graduate talks about finding his groove in Europe 

Hobbs has been plying his craft in Germany recently.
Credit: 
Supplied by Queen's Athletics

Nate Hobbs completed his fifth year at Queen’s this past spring and left the program as one of its best. He ends his tenure with the Gaels ranked second all-time in passing yards, third in passing touchdowns, second in completions, as well as holding the record for throwing the longest passing touchdown in Queen’s history—a 108-yard strike to Matteo del Brocco. Hobbs’ play elevated him to the pantheon of Queen’s quarterbacks, to be mentioned in the same breath as Danny Brannagan or Tom Denison. The Journal reached Hobbs in Copenhagen to discuss his transition from Queen’s football to playing in Germany’s Bayern Sud Liga.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

QJ: What’s the competition level like compared to the OUA? 

NH: Very poor. Basically what happened was I had a few options when I was trying to come over and a lot of them started earlier, and even the CFL tried to hook me up with this one team in Vienna and there’s this place that does the rankings of Europe and this was in the top ten or something. They wanted me to come in March and I had to graduate and I couldn’t go, so I’m stuck down here, I’m stuck in the little German league.  It’s been fun. It’s been a little easier for sure.

QJ: The CFL was trying to hook you up, how does that work?

NH: Because I did the internshipprogram before with the [Montreal] Alouettes. I had a contact who set that up and I think their quarterback went to play [in the States] and they needed someone and then they reached out to the CFL, and they contacted me.

QJ: Have you ever been to Europe before? Is this all new?

NH: My brother did this last year and I went to visit him for 10 days last summer and that was my first time in Europe. Funnily enough, the team I’m with, when they were talking to me, they saw my brother throwing, and they were like ‘Hey, we need another import, and he’s a good enough athlete, do you both want to come?’ So me and my brother are playing for the same team.

QJ: You’ve played against him, he started for the [Toronto Varsity] Blues for a long time ... what was it like playing with him?

NH: It’s fun. It’s kind of like playground football, it’s like we’re back in high school. It’s a good time, you just do whatever you want. 

QJ: Do you think you’re ever going to get into coaching?

NH: Yeah, well I am kind of involved in that.

QJ: Because you did it with the [Kingston] Grenadiers before.

NH: Yeah, I did. In the spring around exam time, I was applying to my master’s, I didn’t get in anywhere, but I had emailed a bunch of coaches where I applied and asked them if they had a spot. And then after all that had all played out, a coach at UofT reached out to me who used to play for Queen’s, Tom Dennison. He reached out to me and asked me if I was going to be in town and was available to help out, and I said yeah, so I’m going to be on the staff kicking around this year at UofT. We’re going to try it out and see what happens. I’m also going to get a graduate certificate at Ryerson or UofT, I haven’t decided what yet.

QJ: What is your actual coaching position with UofT? Is it like a Brendan Coffey [Queen's Defensive Graduate Assistant] type position?

NH:  I’ll coach a position, probably receivers a bit, then help with the film breakdown and stuff like that. I’ll probably be in the booth for the games

QJ: Did [your German team] do well?

NH: Well, it started off really badly. We started off—well, I wouldn’t say really badly, we were 1-4—but the games were close, then it just go to the point where I was like I’m just going to start calling my own plays. We came back and went 4-1 and we finished the season at .500.

QJ: Were there playoffs?

NH: No, we just missed out. We had to beat this one team, our defence was really bad, we were in this game that we had to win and we lost 45-38 or something.

QJ: Are your German friends going to come back and look at this and be like, Jeez, Nate threw me under the bus?

NH: They know how it is. Nobody shows up to practice, it’s one of those things where we have no personnel, the whole defence got hurt somehow over the course of the season somehow because it’s just middle-aged men who go and play games on the weekend. We just have linemen playing linebacker and stuff, the receivers going both ways, playing receiver and DB.

QJ: Do you think you would play again? Not necessarily on that team in Germany, but you were saying there were some really good teams in Italy—would you do this again?

NH: Yeah, I’ve been trying to stay flexible because, like I was saying, I’m doing a certification in the fall and then I’m going to decide if I want to continue with a job or more school, or if I want to go back. I have to make that decision in January-ish, because if I wanted to go somewhere good like Italy, for example, those guys start up, you go over there in February or something. Ideally, I would get with a better team, so I might try and ask the CFL if they have anything so I’ll see what happens. Just trying to keep my options open.

QJ: Is the CFL doing that strictly as a [benevolent act]? Do they see an opportunity to try to connect you, or is this like a farm league [for them]?

NH: I think that’s what they’re trying to do because when they reached out to me about the possibility, they were like, 'are you interested in the possibility of continuing playing,’ like keeping your options open, as they put it. That’s kind of how they framed it, but I wouldn’t expect anything to come of that, to be honest.

QJ: When you were playing, what was the base [language] of communication? Was there a language barrier?

NH: It was weird, to be honest. The team my brother was on last year, he said the coaches would talk to everyone in English when the coach addressed the team, but on this team, they always just spoke it all in German. So you’d just stand there, twiddling your thumbs. I don’t know what they’re saying. There’s that and then most of the guys speak good English so it’s fine. But during the game, you try to talk to the referee or the other guys and you just get blank stares. No one can really tell what you're saying.

QJ: Even before you graduated, [former head coach] Pat Sheahan was shown the door. Do you think that timing was coincidental? 

NH: I think it’s kind of the cycle in general, Coach Pat always talked about that, it goes in cycles. It made sense, when you’re pushing for success with a senior quarterback, you’ve got to take your shot. There’s a lot of changes in the program like that as I’m sure you know. And with that coinciding with a lot of players graduating, including myself, it just felt like the team was kind of turning over.  With us having a lack of success, I feel like they obviously wanted to go in a different direction with the coach as well. Times changed, to put it simply.

QJ: What do you think about Steve Snyder? 

NH: From what I hear, he’s just a phenomenal leader. The guys love him, they’ll run through a brick wall for him. He coached [Queen’s football alumnus Matteo del Brocco] when he was playing in Windsor growing up and he has nothing but great things to say about him. From what I hear it’s mostly like the leadership thing, he’s a top quality leader so I’m excited to see what happens with the program.

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